I’ve become the elephant in the room

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.”
Henry David Thoreau

It is this quote that comes to mind when I look on the last seven years. It is this quote that comes to mind when my depression eased enough for me to start thinking about a future even though the past was still unresolved. It is this quote that remains as my last thought of hope.

The last 3 years of NZBF have been tiring. It has been a struggle and 2015 was supposed to be the year that it paid off with the view that all would be paid in the right timeframe and the business although running at a loss, I would be financially supporting on my own without fail. Without going into full detail, various financial factors not associated directly with NZBF or myself, prevented it from happening. I thought this might happen so I had a Plan A, B, C and D to fix any financial hangover form NZBF15, as I always do in case things don’t work out. I measured the risk and decided if the benefit was worth it. This time I measured wrong and all plans failed. And now, publically, I have to expose myself more than I would ever want to, ironically because I am not of the personality to do that. Not in this way at least. I am a believer of decorum in hard times and not burdening others. Especially when it’s my business (personal or actual).

The last 12-months have been the hardest of my life. I have had to move away from my son and family, my hometown and give up my only asset, my house, to find gainful work that would enable me to meet my financial responsibilities. I shut down a studio I loved, knowing that it was an expense that I could not have until NZBF was back in the black. Well before this time, the struggles of being partners in business and life had put significant strain on my relationship and the cracks were growing. For those who were owed from NZBF15 I kept open communication, and put payment plans in place. In March, the emotional strain of this and more became too much to handle and my marriage of 10 years, and a relationship of 16 years, half my life, ended. Within weeks of this ending, my house was again put at risk and with the deteriorating mental health of my ex, meant all earnings had to go to support the life that I left behind. I had to make sure our son had a roof over his head, food and warmth. I had to make sure my ex could get on his feet, get his business going to support himself and I went without to provide for the family I couldn’t be with anymore. It is only through the graciousness of a few close friends and amazing flatmates, have I been able to support myself. The pressure of this all meant I started to shut down.

Isolating myself is what I do when I am trapped in the cycle of being anxious and depressed. I didn’t reach out nor hear from previously close friends anymore. I stopped paying for anything that wasn’t directly related to supporting my family, and with that my responsibilities as a business owner became neglected. Worse, I stopped communicating with those who had trusted me.

I have had challenge after challenge over the last six months; losing my marriage, being called a deadbeat parent, being told I had abandoned my family, not talking or seeing my own parents when normally it was a weekly occurrence, having less and less time with my son, avoiding social engagements, working huge hours weekly to see very little of it and making no dent in debt, being judged by people who I thought knew me better for making the hardest decision ever and every day waking up with the knowledge I was not making things right because I wasn’t in a position to be able to do so. About a month ago the hole that I had been in started to open up and light began to show. I had one good thing for me to look forward to all year and it kept me going and it was coming up. If I wanted to prove that I was worthy of it, I needed to step-up and get back to being functional and taking responsibility.

I came to an agreement with my ex-husband over taking sole-ownership of the business and its debts. I got offered a contract that would turn my situation around and enable me to meet my responsibilities as a business owner and enable me to get and keep the business in the black. I started seeking to get my business accounts in order and earlier this week, I spent a day going through invoices that I had not had access to in six-months, to establish what was owing to whom and work out the liabilities of the business. I saw that I could do this, I could move forward and make it happen, and I could start planning for the future beyond when the past mistakes had been resolved.

On Tuesday I flew out with a plan to enact while I was away. This was my trip to pull myself together, reinvigorate my passion, and be the person I was capable of being again. My plan was to finish up the last of the accounting so I could get tax sorted and put it back in the business, I was to create a budget to repay the liabilities over the next 6-10 weeks, I was to create the budget for the next NZBF, I was going to change contracts to payment before performance so that I wouldn’t repeat past mistakes, and I was going do the hardest thing yet, reconnect with those who I had failed to contact over the last 6 months of isolation; the ones that I really should have never stopped communicating with. On Wednesday before that could be done, time ran out for me.

I have no animosity for the public way the debt of NZBF was exposed. While I don’t agree with public-outing, at the end of the day It is a situation of my own creation, and I will always take responsibility for it. I have the ability of seeing from others perspectives and can see from the outside looking in, that it appears I have just ignored, forgotten and blatantly chose to not pay and was moving forward to do it again. I want to say that that is just not the case. I have always had good intentions; my actions have not always been able to follow through on them in the timeframes that I had set. I still and will always meet my commitments; even it takes me much longer to do so. If I had communicated better, if I had found a way sooner, that perspective would not have formed. This is solely on me.

It would be easy to say that action is only happening because it was put in the open. Regardless of yesterday’s events, plans were already being made to rectify the situation as I now had a timeframe based on my actual ability to deliver. I can understand that the post was made as it seemed I was pushing forward with NZBF17 without rectifying previous debts on purpose. I was pushing forward with the plans for NZBF17 because I feel like I have an obligation to the wider community to continue with this event and knew that debt would be paid from NZBF15 by December and money would be in the bank ready for the next event in January. I had put it off for as long as I could and was only going forward now that I had full control of it and I could prevent the previous years’ mistakes from reoccurring. My biggest fault has been in not communicating what I was doing to rectify the situation.

Now there is a community hurting. There are individuals hurting. I am not only questioning whether it is right for me to continue with not only producing but being involved in burlesque full stop. I am hurting for who I have become, what I have lost, and what future I thought I had and no longer can see. The one good thing I had to look forward to for me this year I have had to consider withdrawing from, and have relied on others to get me back to NZ so I could process and address my failures. Again I can’t stress enough, I am solely responsible for this and blame no one but myself. Having all this happen behind close doors only offered the illusion of being strong and capable, something that it appears I am not.

No matter how I move forward personally, in my capacity of producer of NZBF this is my promise. All debt will be paid by the end of the year. Only action will show this to be true.

I have already given some time frames to Missy Lisa, and have been grateful of her forgiveness and compassion. I still have work to repair my relationship with others. To everyone who has felt the pain of recent events, I am sorry for letting you down. I understand that the reach of this is much more than those directly involved.

For those who took the time to express concern both publically and privately for my wellbeing, thank you for your empathy. Honestly, I am crushed again, and struggling to get back up, but it is of my own making. Although the above may give insight into the last 12 months, it barely scratches the surface of the difficulties I’ve faced, of which less than a handful really understand. To those people who have been there even when you knew I would push you away, thank you.

“In the face of uncertainty, there is nothing wrong with hope“
O. Carl Simonton